What is law enforcement’s responsibility to its most vulnerable population?
Often times as a society we often forget about that segment of the community - citizens who cannot help us help them or are unable to help themselves. I recall countless times either locating or responding to calls involving elderly citizens with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Often these citizens are unable to verbalize or communicate who they are, where they are going, or where they are coming from.
I have spoken to citizens who thought they were in a whole another state, when they had in fact just wandered down the road. Months ago, an autistic child wandered off while with his father at the local post office. Luckily, the child was found a mile down the road behind a business, but the outcome could have been much worse. People who cannot help themselves are our most vulnerable population. We as a police department have a responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure our vulnerable citizens are reunited with their family or caregivers if separated.
With this in mind, the Lilburn Police Department has initiated the Vulnerable Citizens Registry Program. The following Frequently Asked Questions will explain more about the program.
What is the Vulnerable Citizen's Registry Program?
The Vulnerable Citizen's Registry is a community-based policing initiative. The registry promotes communication between vulnerable persons, the people who support them and the police. This information will assist officers when responding to an emergency involving vulnerable individuals. The registry provides quick access to critical information about a registered person, such as who to call in an emergency, a detailed physical description and any particular sensitivities that the person may experience. Registration is completely voluntary.
The Vulnerable Citizens Registry was created due to officers responding to calls where citizens with diminished capacities have wandered off and either have been located or separated from their caregiver. There have been other cases where officers respond to calls with individuals who are autistic and may appear to be combative or aggressive but are, in fact, peaceful. This voluntary registry will provide the agency with emergency contact information, detailed physical descriptions, known routines and special needs of individuals who reside within the city. This information will assist officers in communicating with, attending a residence of or dealing with an emergency involving these individuals.
Who is a Vulnerable Citizen?
A vulnerable person is defined as a person who, due to medical, cognitive, mental health or physical conditions, may exhibit patterns of behavior that may pose a danger to that person such as autism, dementia, acquired brain injury or other ailments that may cause a person exhibit atypical behaviors ( wandering, physical instability, inability to communicate, aggression, irrational fear, oversensitivity to sensory stimulus (sounds, lights, touch).
How will a registered person's information be used?
A registered person's information will only be used by Lilburn Officers during an emergency or an attempt to reunite registrees with their caregivers. If responding to a call for assistance, officers are alerted beforehand if the registree has an inability to communicate or displays aggression, irrational fear and oversensitivity to sensory stimulus.
Who is eligible and where will the information be kept?
This registry is designed for residents in Lilburn who are at risk if separated from their caregivers. The registrant's information will be kept confidential and only used "in-house" by Lilburn Officers. Information may be provided to other local agencies, such as the Fire Department, during an emergency.
How do I register?
If you are the caretaker or legal guardian of a Vulnerable Citizen, you can go to www.cityoflilburn.com and fill out the online form. You may also complete a form in person at the Lilburn Police Department, located at 4600 Lawrenceville Highway. This could be an opportunity for officers to meet and interact with the registree, especially if they are weary of the police.
What happens after registration?
The registrant's information will be kept on file for use during an emergency. A wrist band and residence window cling will be provided at no cost. The ID card and wristband will assist officers in identifying registered individuals. The window cling will let officers know there is a Vulnerable Citizen living at the residence.
For further questions contact Lt. Chris Dusik at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 770-638-2185